SPRINGFIELD, PA (August 6, 2016) -- Virginia Elena Carta, of Italy, and Eun Jeong Seong, of the Republic of Korea, have reached the final match of the 2016 U.S. Women’s Amateur Championship, being conducted at the 6,259-yard, par-71 Rolling Green Golf Club.
Both players earned 2-and-1 victories in Saturday’s semifinal round, with Carta, 19, eliminating Yuka Saso, 15, of the Philippines, and Seong defeating Mathilda Cappeliez, 18, of France. Carta and Seong comprise the first all-international U.S. Women’s Amateur final since 1910, when Dorothy Campbell, a Scottish golfer who was living in Canada, defeated English player Mrs. G.M. Martin.
The 2016 U.S. Women’s Amateur Championship, conducted by the United States Golf Association, is open to female amateur golfers with a Handicap Index not exceeding 5.4. It consists of two 18-hole rounds of stroke play followed by six rounds of match play, with the championship scheduled to conclude with a 36-hole final on Sunday.
Carta, a sophomore at Duke University who won the 2016 NCAA title as a freshman, trailed 1 down twice on the outward nine, but she grabbed her first lead with back-to-back wins with pars on Nos. 9 and 10.
However, the tide nearly turned on the par-4 12th, where Saso made a masterful bunker escape that rattled Carta.
“I would have never expected Yuka to play that beautiful shot from the bunker,” said Carta, who three-putted for bogey to square the match. “It was kind of unexpected, so I was shocked about that, and we didn't have a good green reading at all on that putt.”
Carta was able to quickly regain her focus, relying on her breakthrough victory at the NCAA Championship to put a positive spin on the disappointing bogey.
“The things that I brought from nationals is to see bad things in a positive way,” said Carta, who won No. 14 with a par to take the lead for good. “I was like, OK, this is going to be great, because now you have to be even more focused on the next shot, and to believe it even more than what you are actually doing. So, that was great. Three-putting that hole was great.”
Carta is attempting to become the second Italian to win the U.S. Women’s Amateur, joining Silvia Cavalleri in 1997, and would join Cavalleri and 2005 U.S. Amateur champion Edoardo Molinari as the third Italian player to win a USGA championship.
Carta could also become the second person to win the NCAA and Women’s Amateur titles in the same season, joining Vicki Goetze in 1992, and just the sixth player to win both titles.
Seong never trailed in her semifinal match against Cappeliez, but was also not able to pull away to more than a 1-up lead until converting her first birdie of the match on the 12th hole. Seong knew that if she could just get through the outward nine, she could rely on her athleticism and ultimately take the victory.
“I think other players are more tired, that they make mistakes some holes,” said Seong, who now holds a remarkable 24-4 record in USGA match-play championships. “That's why I can win easy going to the back nine.”
Should she win the title, Seong would become just the third female player to win multiple USGA championships in the same year. Pearl Sinn won the Women’s Amateur and Women’s Amateur Public Links championships in 1988, while Jennifer Song won the same titles in 2009.
“I have privilege because I'm looking for U.S. Girls' Junior win and US Women's Amateur win, but I will play my play,” said Seong. “I don't feel pressure with another player.”
The winner and runner-up are exempt into the 2017 U.S. Women’s Open, which will be conducted at Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, N.J. The U.S. Women’s Amateur champion traditionally receives an exemption into four major professional championships – the U.S. Women’s Open, the Women’s British Open, the ANA Inspiration and the Evian Championship. The winner also receives a 10-year exemption into the U.S. Women’s Amateur, while the runner-up receives a three-year exemption.
The championship match of the 2016 U.S. Women’s Amateur Championship will be broadcast on Fox Sports 1. Coverage will air from 1-4 p.m. EDT on Sunday, with exclusive bonus coverage streamed live on usga.org from 9:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.